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What's REALLY going on with all that blood?


Those of us who've been around this site for a while have seen the awesome Disney video on The Story of Menstruation.  So, what really causes all of that blood?  Is the shedding of the lining the same as, say, removing a scab from your knee?  Sometimes it comes off cleanly, other times it bleeds worse than the original wound.  I know how silly this question sounds, but from what I can tell, much of the population seems to believe that our uterus fills up  like a water balloon and is slowly devoured by baby during pregnancy, or simply *pops* in the absence of said hypothetical baby.

Example of this confusion:  I was answering questions in another forum about the DivaCup, and when I got to the part about how little fluid is passed during the cycle, the other woman, to paraphrase, informed me, "That cannot be true.  I delivered a 9lb baby!"

Part of the confusion might be how we're told that the cycle 1) "appears as bleeding" or 2) "takes place in the form of blood".
1) Is it, or is it not blood?
2) What do you mean by "form of blood"?  Sure, there's endometrial stuff in there, but what else would the "form of blood" it be?

Let's discuss this!

I hope that covers all the embarassing questions. ^_^

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Question last updated by Jessica

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 Acording to the wikipedia article on menstruation, "Menstrual fluid in fact contains some blood, as well as cervical mucus, vaginal secretions, and endometrial tissue".
Well the blood is blood, the cervical mucus is from the uterus and vaginal secretions are secretions that the vagina produces, but I don't really know the details.
Endometrial tissue is the tissue that we all have heard of, that is "the body preparing for pregnancy". It forms on the endometrium, that is a tissue on the wall of the uterus. This early in the cycle, this tissue is not actually doing anything, and it's only function is to help the egg attach to the uterus walls. But during an actual pregancy, the tissue grows a lot more and eventually forms the placenta. None of those things is "eaten" by the embryo -- they act as a protection for the fetus and help nutrients such as oxygen get to it. When the baby is delivered, the placenta is expelled whole.

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